|Come midnight December 31st, we will be saying good bye to 2012 as we usher in all the hopes and anticipation that comes with 2013.I am looking forward to the new year, the opportunity to begin again, to renew, to refresh. It’s all very exciting, much like the first day of school when all your notebooks are clean and your pencils sharpened. The New Year is an opportunity to set goals and dream big about what you wish to accomplish in the clean, clear months that lie ahead. But I would be remiss if I jumped straight to 2013 without first reflecting on 2012. Here are some of the lessons I plan to take away from this year.
I am not a hugger. Whilst I hug my kids a lot, I am by nature not a touchy feely person. However, multiple studies have shown that hugging has lots of health benefits. It helps lower your blood pressure, it relieves stress and makes you feel calmer by releasing oxytocin and hugging is great for your relationship. Both for you and your partner.
This year had a lot of challenges for me with my move, beginning my business, the deaths of my brother and sister and law and sometimes my husband would just grab me and hold me. He knew I needed that moment to decompress and relax, more so then I knew myself.
2)Eat less meat
About a year ago, I began the vegetarian experiment with meatless Mondays. Initially I did it as a challenge to myself and an effort to reduce my carbon footprint (with a baby at home in diapers, I felt our footprint was that of a Goliath) but over time, I began to eat less and less meat. As a result I lost an additional 10lbs more then I had gained with pregnancy and started to feel more active. I now eat vegetarian 90% of the time. I experiment with different vegetables and challenge myself with recipes.
3)Eat more vegetables.
Going hand in hand with less meat means more veggies. I begin my day with a smoothie that has spinach or kale in it. I nibble on carrots and cucumbers or celery. I have a great appreciation for swiss chard. This is coming from someone who ate the exact same foods for the first quarter of her life. More veggies in your life is better for your heart, reduces the rates of certain types of cancers, keeps you more regulated, alkalizes your system, sets an example to your children as to what to eat. Veggies fill you up, so you eat less of the bad stuff. They help to counter cravings. You can eat as many and as much as you want!
I quit the gym when I moved and haven’t joined a new one. Now, with working and having a family, I don’t always make the time to exercise. And my body pays the price. I feel achy, irritable and don’t want to play with my kids. But if I make time, even small amounts to go walking, do jumping jacks, skip whilst walking the dogs, download and do a 20 minute yoga podcast on iTunes, ride my bike to town, race my 5 year old, foam roll, play in the playground, I find I feel better, healthier and my mood is instantly improved. There is always time to move. Always. Small amounts add up to greatness.
5)Read labels/Be mindful of what you are eating.
While disappointing, the failure of Prop 38 to pass in California does not signal the end of the Right to Know movement. If anything, I believe people are even more motivated to know what they are eating and whether or not it has been genetically modified. But this issue of knowing what we are eating is much bigger then just genetically modified foods.We have become complacent in our eating habits and it shows. It is too easy to hit the drive through or buy the premade, packaged meal at the store. As a result, we are fatter and unhealthier then ever. Our kids are getting diabetes and heart attacks. I have learned to read every label to see what hidden nastiness is inside. So take time, learn the different names for sugar and wheat. Learn what is going in your food that is GMO. And use that knowledge as power to make smarter choices and to eat more whole foods.
6)The Grandma rule
If your grandmother recognizes it or cooks it, it’s probably ok to eat. If she doesn’t or it didn’t exist in her day, just don’t eat it.
And the health benefits are enormous… In fact, there are lots of things we can simply add into our diets that will have far reaching benefits. Maca, goji berries, coconut oil are just a few that we’ve experimented with in our house over the past year. Grab something that intrigues you and see what you can do with it.
8)Anyone can cook.
ANYONE! I just learned how to cook a few years ago and while I still don’t like it, I do like knowing that what I am eating is healthy and exposes my family and friends to a variety of things. Cooking gives me control as to what to add and what to take out. Plus, because I now know how to make cookies and cakes from scratch, I have much less guilt over eating it or giving it to my kids.
9)Make time for yourself. Take care of yourself.
Because if you don’t, who will take care of everything else?
***Bonus takeaway! Be in the moment, there is always time
When we are born and are children, we face an infinite amount of time, but as we age we see our time as shrinking. I heard a lecture by Deepak Chopra the other day and he said that people who constantly complained about not having enough time had faster heartbeats, more anxiety and stress. So my final take away of 2012 is to know that there is always enough time to love, to live, to eat, to play, to just simply be. While some days may be a hurry and rush day, so many more aren’t. So take those days and ignore the to do list and just be there, in the moment, and find the all the joys and love that exists.
I wish you all a happy and healthy new year and look forward to seeing what 2013 brings! See you in 2013!
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About the Author: Courtney Abrams is a Health Coach and Founder of Roslyn Wellness. Trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she helps clients work within the realities of their day to day lives to find ways to make small and manageable changes to their health that can maintained over time. Her clients include people trying to lose weight, beat sugar, increase their energy, cook simple healthful food and reduce stress to name a few. She also shares a passion for food policy and educating people about the foods they are eating and the governmental role behind much of it. You can learn more about Courtney and Roslyn Wellness at http://RoslynWellness.com.